52K-Mile Luxury Survivor: 1978 Buick Riviera

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This beautiful Firemist Red 1978 Buick Riviera would have been perfect for any middle-aged executive, and it still would be. Riviera is one of the few big cars that only came in a two-door body style throughout its whole run, from 1963 through 1999. The seller has this car listed here on eBay in York, Pennsylvania and the bids are up to $7,900 but the reserve isn’t met yet.

Who has a favorite generation of the Buick Riviera? I’m guessing that most folks prefer the first-generation cars and I have to admit that the hidden headlight ’65s are my favorites, but there aren’t any that I would kick out of the garage. And, they didn’t make a four-door version. Ever. So those of you who are “Two too many doors!” folks, you can rest easy, you won’t have to avert your gaze when you see a Riviera. Hagerty is at $16,200 for a #2 excellent car and I’d guess that the seller’s reserve isn’t far under that number.

The fifth-generation Riviera was made for the 1977 and 1978 model years on a slightly-downsized GM B-Body platform, which it shared with Pontiac, Chevrolet, and Oldsmobile. Some of those cars were available in four-door versions but the Riviera was always a two-door car. Buick’s literature of the era describes the 1978 Riviera as living in two worlds, the world of the luxury car and the world of the road car. That’s a perfect world, in my opinion.

If there’s a more late-1970s interior than red velour I don’t know what it would be. As expected on a 52,000-mile car, this one looks almost like it just rolled out of the factory. Actually, so does the exterior of this car. The wheel looks as beautiful as the rest of the interior does, front and rear. The trunk looks nice and the seller even had this car up on a lift and took some underside photos, nice work.

The engine compartment is pretty tidy (those red hoses, though!) and the engine is a Buick 350-cu.in. OHV V8, which would have had 155 horsepower and 288 lb-ft of torque when new. It’s backed up by a GM Turbo-Hydramatic 400 three-speed automatic with a column selector. The seller is a car dealer and they are definitely not in the hard-sell business because all they say about this gorgeous car is that it’s a running, driving classic car. Have any of you owned a fifth-generation Riviera?

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Comments

  1. Rw

    I may be wrong but,I really doubt it a 400 turbo..

    Like 7
    • Erik

      Rw: These (1978 and 1979) B-body Rivieras came with the Buick 350 or the Olds 403 engine, both with the TH400 transmission.

      Like 2
      • Erik

        Edit: Of course I meant to type 1977 and 1978 in my reply above. Model year 1979 was the first year for the FWD E-body Riviera.

        Like 3
      • Jon

        Yes it is. Looks like just an am-fm -cb combo. There also were cassette & 8-track combos.

        Like 1
      • JimZMember

        I’ve got a AM/FM/CB in my ’76, not sure it was a factory or aftermarket.

        Like 0
      • ACZ

        Aftermarket. You can see it says “Panasonic” on the radio face. Original was a Delco.

        Like 0
  2. nlpnt

    Another site called these 1977-78s the “placeholder” Rivs, destined for a short lifespan as the model moved from the B to the E-body platform for ’79.

    It isn’t bad, but considering a 1977-78 LeSabre coupe sans vinyl top is actually *good looking* in a way few overdecorated big plush ’70s cars (especially 2-doors) are, I’d have had a hard time looking past one of those.

    Like 5
    • Bob C.

      I always called these the “Stopgap Rivs”. It is a nice example though.

      Like 6
    • CCFisher

      This basically *is* a LeSabre coupe, inside and out. Only the end caps and the quarter panels are different. The ’71-’76 Riviera was also closely, though less obviously, related to the LeSabre, which allowed Buick to build the Riviera on the same assembly lines as the LeSabre. With a downsized LeSabre on the way for ’77, Buick could either shrink the Riviera to match, or set up a dedicated assembly line for a carryover car. Olds and Cadillac didn’t face this choice, as their Toronado and Eldorado were always built on separate lines due to their front wheel drive configuration.

      Like 8
    • Bick Banter

      This is the same exact car as the Buick LeSabre, only with more luxury stuff and a few styling cues. That’s not a big deal now But at the time I think some purest were kind of put off by it.

      Like 4
  3. John

    Yes, it has a turbo 400 transmission.

    Like 5
  4. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    I remember seeing these at the NY car show at the coliseum at Columbus circle Manhattan NY. Too square but love the interior. Next year 78 was the rear drive swan song. 79 was FWD 🤦.. Growing up as a teenager in the 70’s seen plenty of changes in Automotive. Otherwise it’s a beautiful example of a Buick. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 6
  5. Joe

    Please don’t tell me we’re going to get on the red hose soap box again.

    Like 3
    • Carlo J

      Oh no what did I miss? mine had red hoses.

      Like 2
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      It’s just a running gag, Joe, life is short, let’s have a little fun here at least.

      Like 3
  6. DGMinGA

    Seems like the author had year model dyslexia. This is not a late 80s car, and it is not an 87 that you would have expected to see an airbag in. It a 78.

    Like 8
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      You’re right, DGMinGA! My apologies for the typo. The late-70s, I meant, good eye. Right again on no airbag, once I said the late-80s it went off the rails.

      Like 1
  7. Troy

    Its a clean car 5 digit odometer so you really need to see it in person and hear It run personally I think it’s already passed its value on the bidding even with reserve not met. Good luck to the seller I hope they hit the reserve. But the best I can do is $3500

    Like 3
  8. Eddie

    I wish I could. I love that car and would ride like a dream. Beautiful!!!

    Like 4
  9. 85cs

    I love these era of cars – usable yet distinctive. This one is a host of contradictions, a sport wannabe large coupe, that looks like all stable mate siblings, with a sporty steering wheel, yet with rain gutters and splash guards …..

    Like 4
  10. MGM

    This ride is clean ,well kept bet it gets a decent buck. Financially, tied up or I’d think seriously about it

    Like 3
  11. RalphP

    Is that a built-in CB radio I spy?

    Like 4
  12. md

    I’ve been on the look out for a Bonneville coupe, but this is definitely interesting. The anniversary edition with silver leather is a bit over the top, but these standard versions don’t come up very often in nice shape. I just wish it had the 403.

    Like 1
    • ACZ

      I’ve had a few of these. They are a terrific road car. Very comfortable. The 403 is definitely the better option. That 350 was kind of a slug.

      Like 2
  13. Gene

    Slug yes but aluminum heads ?(:-)
    !!!!WHAT!!!!!!

    Like 1
    • Gene

      It would look really good with 800hp and how much tq?

      Like 1
  14. Gene

    Buick 350 aluminum heads?

    Like 1
  15. Jackie Withrow

    Ok So?
    it’s a nice looking car and so what? its probably over priced, how many years has it sat, not running, rotting away until someone who doesn’t know what to expect, buys it.???
    I had the best cars ever of the 1970’s the Cadillac Coupe de’ville
    I owed the Fleetwood, the Sedan de’ville, & the Convertible Coupe
    The body was a massive strong straight look and the fin’s were to die for . They all had leather interior classic wire wheels. I lived in Dallas Tx in mid 80’s, l could buy these cars all over town from one owners with less than 50k miles on them and l never paid more than $
    $1500.00 that is why l owned 6 0f them at the same time so l could drive a different color one every day of the week . Then l moved to Miami Fla. 1988 and bought a 1978
    Lincoln Continental Coupe big box
    2 dr. Beige/1/2 brown top w/surf
    & beige leather Interior, Continental wheel and Michelin white walls.
    That car had one retired senior owner & 40,000 Miles and l only
    Paid $1500.00 for it . Where are those cars today? All these internet
    And car sales are snapping them up and asking us to pay 10times what they paid for these old beauties….Ok l understand everyone wants to make a buck but leave some meat on the bone in case something happens to the car and we need to have it repaired
    I can see if you find a deal for 2 k
    Flip it for 8 0r 10 .That’s ok but l see stuff on line for 15/20/25/30/
    Thousand dollars. These are barn finds/ nice original older cars.
    Not Concourse Trailer Beauties.
    So why the heck such high prices??
    Let’s get real a nice used car should be around $5000. (A daily driver ) and maybe a unique car in great used condition With low miles, one owner maybe $10,000.
    This is my opinion and l wonder how many agree with me ???
    Let me hear you ????

    Like 1
    • Jesse Jesse MortensenStaff

      Unfortunately the days of nice $5k drivers are long gone.

      Like 7
    • ACZ

      I hate to say it but, you’re living in the distant past.

      Like 3
    • Brian

      I don’t know where you’re getting your pricing information, but please toss out your source. The price of a used car is whatever the buyer and seller agree upon. Has nothing to do with your opinion.

      Like 3
    • Donald Porochonski

      You’re absolutely right Jackie. The car flippers are driving the prices up. I bought my 1991 Mustang LX convertible for four grand but almost lost it to a flipper when I tried to low ball the seller. I practically had to beg the guy to sell it to me for what he listed it for.

      Like 0
      • Jesse Jesse MortensenStaff

        Hmm, so flippers are bad as long as they aren’t you?

        Like 1
      • ACZ

        Ever think you made him mad with your low ball offer?

        Like 0
  16. Jon

    I’ve always really liked these 2 years of the Riv. Especially the formal roof. Like another comment those red hoses have to go, unless they were going with the overall red theme color but puleeze.
    Looks great overall. Good luck with the sale.

    Like 1
  17. Brian

    Just by looking at this car, you can tell it got the FULL 70s package. Big square bumpers? Check. Whitewall tires? Check. Half vinyl top? Check. Red velou overstuffed seats? Check. The only thing missing is the fuzzy dice in the mirror. GLWS

    Like 1
  18. Chuck Dickinson

    Fuzzy dice were a 50s/60s thing. I think by the late 70s that fad had long passed.

    Like 0
  19. JimZMember

    No thanks, I’ll keep my ’76 Riv….much classier IMHO!

    Like 0
    • ACZ

      Pretty ride! Reminds me of the 1975 Riv that I had.

      Like 0
  20. PRA4SNW

    SOLD for $12,100.

    Like 0

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